Tips for photographers:
The most difficult thing about headshots is that the subject expects a very quick session, usually less than 15 minutes. With such little shooting time you’re not going to get a lot of great expressions out of the subject so you better be ready to catch them when they happen. You can’t be fiddling with lights and composition, and you can’t miss focus. Cropping. There is an art to cropping someone’s head and it’s not always easy to find the perfect crop. Sometimes it comes naturally when I’m shooting, and if it doesn’t, I try to find the right crop as soon as possible when the subject comes in. If I’m struggling I’ll give myself a little breathing room to crop in post, but I prefer not too. Lighting. This is a two light corporate headshot technique. These photos are lit with one 3x4 foot softbox camera left about a foot above head height (meaning the strobe head is about a foot above head height, not the entire softbox) and about 6-12 inches in front of the subject and perpendicular to the subject so they are hit with feathered light from a large source. You can see the large catchlight in the eye. The result is very soft light that is flattering for all skin types with some directionality to shape the face. There is a 4x8 foot white reflector out of frame to camera right to bounce the soft light back onto the shadow side of the face. This further softens the transition from highlight to shadow, but it doesn’t eliminate the shadows so there is still some dimension in the face (that’s why I prefer to use a reflector rather than another light source, it will automatically adjust to whatever you do with the main light, but will never wash out the shadows). The background is lit with a second light, a bare strobe with 6 inch reflector about 3 feet above the subject’s head pointed on the background so that none of the light from this light hits the subject at all (you can adjust the placement so that some of this light catches the top of the subjects hair if you want a hair light). This is a simple, go to lighting technique that is very forgiving and looks good on any subject without the tacky “overlit” look that adding a bunch of strobes can create.